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Restricted free agent to be Anfernee Simons: “I 100% want to stay in Portland”

Portland Trail Blazers v Milwaukee Bucks

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 14: Anfernee Simons #1 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on against the Milwaukee Bucks during the first half at Fiserv Forum on February 14, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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One key reason the Trail Blazers could afford to trade CJ McCollum to the Pelicans is the emergence of Anfernee Simons at the guard spot, someone who could play next to Damian Lillard on a re-tooled roster.

The potential hitch? Simons is a restricted free agent this offseason. While Portland could match any offer, he could make that expensive and difficult if another team comes after him and Simons signs their offer (and there are teams interested).

Simons isn’t looking for that — he wants to stay. So he told Ben Pickman at Sports Illustrated.

“I 100% want to stay in Portland,” Simons says of his upcoming free agency. “And I think everybody wants me to stay as well. I think it’s a perfect fit for me.”

The only thing that would get in the way of Simons re-signing in Portland is if they lowball him, which it doesn’t sound like they will do. The going rate for a starting wing is in the $17-$18 million range the first year. If you’re looking for comps, Gary Trent Jr. signed a three-year, $51.8 million extension in Toronto, while Duncan Robinson signed a five-year, $90 million extension ($80 million of that is guaranteed).

Simons is averaging 17.1 points and shooting 40.3% from 3 this season, both part of his across-the-board career highs this season. Always gifted but figuring out how to use those talents at the NBA level — and gaining confidence in doing so — it all came together for him this season.

Simons is in Portland for the long haul. Whether Lillard will be and what this roster looks like heading into training camp are more interesting questions.